When the ER doc told me it was a separated shoulder and there were no fractures, I thought that was a good thing. Lately I was beginning to doubt that. After notable improvement the first few days, the healing seemed to stall over the next two weeks. The pain wasn’t getting any better, and I wasn’t seeing any improvement in range of motion. I started thinking maybe I would’ve been better off with a broken collarbone – it’s at least a discrete injury that heals in a predictable period of time, versus these ligament and tendon injuries that can sometimes drag on forever. I began to envision a protracted period of wearing the sling and struggling to maintain fitness on that God-awful stationary recumbent bicycle. During the third week, however, I started noticing real improvement, and at the end of the week I was ready to try going “slingless.” I did fine that first day and have seen continued improvement in the days since then.
I didn’t do anything the first 8 days after the crash. It sucked, but I think my body also needed the rest. When I felt good enough I started working out again by running and doing the stationary recumbent at the YMCA. Running is okay, and at least when I have my legs under me I actually rather enjoy it. But I can’t do it every day, so on alternate days I had to do the stationary. In each of my 6 workouts on that evil machine I spent the entire 60 minutes painfully watching the clock in it’s slow motion countdown to 0:00. I honestly don’t know how people motivate themselves with machine-based exercise programs! I felt like a rat on a treadmill, with only the hope of some future glory on a bicycle being strong enough motivator to keep me from saying “f**k it” and soothing my angst with 50 grams of bacon double cheeseburger fat! If my only goals were fitness for fitness’ sake I’d be in deep trouble – “Ted, meet fat, middle-aged dad!” I guess I lack discipline. Or maybe I’ve just gotten spoiled with a fitness lifestyle that feels almost like pure fun and nothing like work. Every time I ride I wish I could ride longer – every time I workout on the evil machine I wish I could quit sooner. I actually think I race just because it’s so much fun to train.
I ran Sunday, and for the first time since the injury I felt great – 7.3 miles of hilly Wildwood terrain at little over a 9-min clip, decent enough for me! The next day I couldn’t bear the thought of the evil machine, and with the rapidly improving shoulder I decided it was time to give the road bike a try. I scooted home from work early so I could ride leisurely without worrying about how long I was out and pulled the white flash LOOK down off the garage wall. I was a little nervous at first, especially descending the quarter-mile 16% grade that leads out of my neighborhood, but I quickly gained confidence and started really enjoying being on the road again. Fitness-wise I had little problem – the legs lacked some snap but were not at all noodly. The lungs were definitely fine. I did feel some discomfort in my lower back, neck, and wrists due to the aggressive position on the bike, but after a half hour even that went away. Most importantly the shoulder did not give me any problems in maintaining control of the bike and handling road vibration. The only issue I ran into was changing hand position on the bars – raising my hand off the bar caused some discomfort, and I found myself “creeping” my hand along the bar to change position. No biggy, though – I could handle it, and before long I was enjoying life on the road again on a gorgeous evening.
At some point I realized it was going to get dark soon and I better start heading back. Apparently my internal clock was still stuck on September 1st, because it got dark way quicker and sooner than I realized it would. I had no lights or blinkers but wasn’t too concerned about visibility – traffic in Wildwood is almost non-existent after rush hour. I was not, however, prepared for how dark it actually got! By the time I hit Hardt Rd it was getting quite dark – beginning the descent to DeHardt Farm Rd with only subtle changes in gray shades to indicate the road was almost surreal. By the time I got up into my neighborhood it was pitch black – I had to creep along at 5-10 mph for fear of running right off the road and into the trees! At last, I made it home with ~30 miles under my belt.
I remember thinking, “I wish I could’ve gone longer!